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How do you find a good roommate?

Posted by Rona Fischman  August 17, 2012 01:58 PM

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As we approach the final weeks of apartment-hunting season, there are many renters -- especially young renters -- who are looking for an apartment to share with roommates. Finding a roommate takes a lot of luck and some caution. Choosing a roommate is like having a blind date that lasts for a year. John Moore from PadMatcher gives this advice. What would you add?

Bad roommates; we hope to avoid them, but taking a chance with classified ads may place you in the middle of roommate hell. Before you start searching you need to figure out what suits you best. Here are some tips on finding the perfect roommate.

1. Cleanliness
I’m sure we’ve all had a messy roommate at one point in time, to some people it doesn’t matter and to others it can be a nightmare. Figure out ahead of time how much clutter you can tolerate and be honest with how tidy you are. Getting that out of the way is key so you don’t get locked into a lease with someone who deserves to be on “Hoarders.”

2. Atmosphere
What kind of atmosphere are you looking for with a roommate? Are you a recent graduate still looking to go out on the weekends? Or have you landed a serious job that will require quiet downtime and a calming atmosphere? Let your potential roommates know your preferences. You won’t be happy with waking up at three in the morning to the sound of your roommate and their friends singing a slurred rendition of “Sweet Caroline” unless you are inclined to sing along.

3. Area of choice Each Boston neighborhood is different and you should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each. Whether you’re a fan of Italian food and hoping to live in the North End or someone who wants to be right by the historic Fenway Park to take in the action of the Red Sox, figuring out what area in Boston suits you best is an easy way to filter out potential roommates. Obviously, being open to living in several areas will make it easier to find someone, but if you’re set on a specific place then you shouldn’t have a problem finding a roommate with similar interest in the neighborhood’s amenities.

4. Price range, occupation, and income
An easy way to tell if someone is going to be able to afford the apartments you’re looking at is to know what their occupation is as well as their salary. Some people feel like this is too personal of a question, but it’s something you’ll need to get past. You don’t want to end up stretching your budget to find out your roommate is living comfortably while you’re eating ramen noodles every night.

5. Compatibility and honesty
Of course we’d all love to live with our best friends and never have a care in the world, but then we realize our best friends are slobs, always running late and might not be the ideal candidate for a roommate. That’s where compatibility comes into play. The key is to find someone you’ll get along with, not necessarily a best friend, and who won’t give you headaches when it comes to the apartment finding process. To avoid conflicts discuss values that are important to you (i.e. sense of humor, politics, cleanliness). Finding a roommate who shares these values takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process. So be honest, ask tough questions and be prepared to answer everything honestly. You’ll find someone who works well with you in no time.

Important questions to ask:
-How often do you clean?
-Do you clean immediately or let the apartment get bad before cleaning it?
-How often do you have visitors?
-What are your weekends like?
-Are you in a relationship? If so, how often are they over?
-What are your pet peeves?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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